The long haul: Doane on the march
05/25/09 7:55AM By Larry Doane
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(DOANE) I'm an infantryman, which, in short, means that I walk for a living. There are many species of soldier in today's mechanized, computerized militaries. But the infantryman, the foot soldier, has been eternal. I march today just as the hoplites of Ancient Greece did and with the same sense of honor. Some may think that character can be found at the tip of the spear, forged in the heat of battle. It's not. It is on the march, in the long hours of tedium and boredom and pain, where true character is found. Soldiers value most those who stand at their shoulders when things are most dire. But no one can stand at that tipping point without having first made the journey, the long march through the night.
We all have our march to make, our miles to cross. And with each step comes the simple choice to quit or to carry on. And so I live in the moment, not by edict or philosophy, but by necessity. A wandering mind may succumb to the desire to quit. An eye cast too far forward stumbles on the ground at hand. Instead, a focus on the moment and its demands is required. And in exchange for this commitment the march delivers its own reward. A strength born not of muscle or sinew, but of spirit and will. And this strength carries far beyond the end of the journey.
On the march some slump forward and shuffle through the fatigue and the pain. But others, those who've tread this path before, stand tall and stride long. They know the road is there to both humble and empower them. They know the truth of the road. They know the march is not pleasant, but also know that it isn't meant to be. And, while the proverbial journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, it is in lasting until the final step that character is born.